OMAHA, Neb. — Behind a 12-strikeout performance from Brady Singer (9-5), Florida held off the LSU Baseball team in game 1 of the best-of-three 2017 College World Series finals on Monday, 4-3, at TD Ameritrade Park.
LSU (52-19) and Florida (51-19) will square off in game 2 at 7 p.m. CT on Tuesday. The game will be televised by ESPN and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network (streaming free at www.LSUsports.net/live).
Holding back its two ace starters – Jared Poche’ and Alex Lange – in game 1, the Tigers attempted to piece together a victory on the mound and nearly pulled off the feat.
LSU’s three pitchers – Russell Reynolds, Nick Bush and Hunter Newman – combined to allow only four runs on six hits with five strikeouts. However, three of Florida’s four runs came as a results of walks.
“Our kids left it all out there on the field, played their hearts out and we just came up a little bit short tonight,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “It’s comforting to know that we still have Jared Poché going tomorrow fully rested. If we’re fortunate enough to win tomorrow night, we’ve got Alex Lange waiting. We don’t think the series is over by a long stretch. We’re excited about playing tomorrow, and hopefully we can have a little bit more luck on our side.”
Singer, a sophomore right-hander, allowed three runs on eight hits with 12 strikeouts and two walks.
Florida took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, as Reynolds (1-2) struggled with his command after a terrific first time through the Gators’ order.
Reynolds, a fifth-year senior who started for the first time since 2015, pitched admirabily to keep the Tigers in a scoreless tie through three innings while allowing only two singles.
After getting the first out in the fourth, Reynolds issued three-straight walks and was relieved by Nick Bush. A foul-out by Langworthy with the bases loaded allowed Florida to score the game’s first run on a sacrifce fly. The big hit of the inning came off the bat of Florida third baseman Jonathan India, who hit a ground-ruled double over the head of LSU centerfielder Zach Watson that plated two runs.
Meanwhile, Singer was in control through 5 1/3 innings. Ten of his first 16 out came via strikeouts until Antoine Duplantis parked a solo home run into the right field bullpen to put the Tigers on the board and start a rally in the sixth inning. Following Singer’s 11th strikeout, Zach Watson was hit by a pitch, moved to second when Josh Smith walked, then scored on a line-drive single to left by Beau Jordan. LSU trailed 3-2.
The Gators answered in the next frame, as Langworthy doubled to right-center field to leadoff the inning and scored on a single up the middle that just missed the glove of Bush. Florida extended the lead to 4-2, and Hunter Newman entered with two outs. After a walk to the No. 9 hitter, Newman struck out Deacon Liput to end the threat.
Deichmann started the eighth inning with a double down the left field line, chasing Singer from the game in favor of Michael Byrne.
Byrne recorded the first out of the inning on a fly ball before Josh Smith pounded a single into the right-field gap to drive in Deichmann. Smith was called out attempting to extend the hit into a double, though video replay showed a close call at second base. A groundout back to the mound ended the threat.
Byrne worked two innings including a perfect ninth to earn his 19th save of the season.
“We’re not going to hang our heads tonight,” Mainieri said. “I thought our kids competed as hard as they could and they left it all out there on the field. And like I said going into the game, it was a tough matchup for us, and we knew that. And our kids didn’t give up. They believed that they could do it.
“Going forward, tomorrow, our kids, they’re confident. They’re going to go out there and play hard. We respect the University of Florida, but we feel like we’re right there with them. And we’ve got one of our guys going tomorrow. Jared Poche’ has been a warrior for us for four years.”